Moon Tunes: 10 High-Flying Hot 100 Hits, From Van Morrison, Duran Duran, Al Jarreau, R.E.M. & More

Fin Costello/Redferns
Duran Duran photographed in the 1980s.

A look at memorable songs that have rocketed up the chart, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

This Saturday, July 20, marks the 50th anniversary of audacious astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins completing Apollo 11's historic mission, as Armstrong and (19 minutes later) Aldrin become the first humans ever to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969.

Before the feat, however, people were landing moon-related hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and they've been making such flights since.

To celebrate the anniversary of the first lunar landing, here's a look at 10 memorable moon tunes that have hit the Hot 100, from the past 50 years and beyond. (Like Apollo 11, we're keeping our sights solely on the moon. So, other space-related songs are not included here, such as David Bowie's "Space Oddity" or Elton John's "Rocket Man." Also, honorable mentions to Walk the Moon and Michael Jackson's iconic Moonwalk, as well as MTV's VMAs Moonman award; which was changed to Moon Person in 2017.)

Check them out below.


"Blue Moon"
The Marcels
No. 1 peak, three weeks, beginning April 3, 1961

The doo-wop group's classic remains the only Hot 100 hit with "moon" in its title to plant its flag atop the chart.

"Fly Me to the Blue Moon – Bossa Nova"
Joe Harnell and His Orchestra
No. 14, Feb. 23, 1963

The standard has reached the Hot 100 as recorded by five acts (all in the '60s), with Harnell's rising the highest. While Frank Sinatra's 1964 take didn't hit the Hot 100, it became the first music played on the moon, on a portable cassette player held by Aldrin after he stepped on the surface. Upon Armstrong's passing in 2012, Diana Krall sang the song at his memorial service.

"Bad Moon Rising"
Creedence Clearwater Revival
No. 2, June 28, 1969

The lead single from CCR's album Green River is also turning 50, having peaked just three weeks before Apollo 11 reached its destination. Also in the summer of '69 (the same time that Bowie's "Space Oddity" was released), "Moonflight" by Vik Venus Alias: Your Main Moon Man hit No. 38 on the Hot 100; Venus was really WMCA New York DJ Jack Spector, who had fun with the moon landing, as the novelty song finds him staging a mock press conference with questions to astronauts answered via snippets of hit '60s songs.

"Dancing in the Moonlight"
King Harvest
No. 13, Feb. 24, 1973

The pop culture fave made its latest resurgence thanks to its appearance on the soundtrack to Netflix's The Umbrella Academy earlier this year.

"Moondance"
Van Morrison
No. 92, Dec. 10, 1977

The song barely blasted off on the Hot 100 but remains one of the singer-songwriter's most beloved. It was originally released in 1970 on his album Moondance, which hit No. 29 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified triple-Platinum.

"New Moon on Monday"
Duran Duran
No. 10, March 17, 1984

The single became the Simon LeBon-fronted group's fourth Hot 100 top 10, among 11 total tallied through 1993.

The song doesn't make the band feel too sunny, however: Members Nick Rhodes and Andy Taylor were reportedly upset that they had to interrupt their Christmas holiday to film its video.

"Desert Moon"
Dennis DeYoung
No. 10, Nov. 10, 1984

After a run of Hot 100 top 10s fronting Styx in the '70s, including the 1979 No. 1 "Babe," DeYoung went solo with what stands as his highest-charting single on his own.

"Moonlighting (Theme)"
Al Jarreau
No. 23, July 18, 1987

The song served as the theme song to ABC's comedy/crime drama Moonlighting, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. Produced by Nile Rodgers and penned by Jarreau and Lee Holdridge, it went on to win two Grammy Awards: for best pop vocal performance, male and best song written specifically for a motion picture or television.

"Man on the Moon"
R.E.M.
No. 30, March 27, 1993

The alt-rock classic and ode to late comedian Andy Kaufman pokes fun at moon landing conspiracy theories (playing off rumors of Kaufman's 1984 death being a hoax). The song's title subsequently doubled as the title of the hit 1999 film about Kaufman and reappeared on its soundtrack.

"Can't Fight the Moonlight"
LeAnn Rimes
No. 11, March 2, 2002

The Diane-Warren written song was released on the soundtrack to the 2000 film Coyote Ugly. Thanks to multiple remixes, it reached its Hot 100 peak nearly two years later.


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